The Startup Mentality

August 27th, 2008

Meet the winners!! The Entrepreneurial Thought Leadership Series by Standford Technology Ventures Program is a fantastic way to meet wildly successful startup folks. I’ve been totally focused on sponging their secret sauces, ipod equipped and wide eyed. Below are summaries of some of my favorite lectures. These are absolutely fantastic…

Organization Speaker Key Points
Angel Investors Ron Conway and Mike Maples Jr. Overview: Two angel investors provide a window into their risky and exciting world of angel investing.

Memorable Points: An angel investor is not qualified to know whether an idea is a great one – only the market is. The entrepreneur needs to demonstrate market viability instead of looking to the angel for that validation.

Aruba Networks Dominic Orr Overview: Emphasizes the major weapon of small startups – raw speed in execution and innovation.

Memorable Points: Comments on how correct application of the Hewlett Packard “HP Way” puts vitality and drive into startups.

KLA Tencor Rick Wallace Overview: Vision, value, and strategy in action.

Memorable Points: Shows by solid examples how properly setting vision truly drives decisions that make the difference between wild success and absolute failure of a large organization.

Stanford Technology Ventures Program Kathleen M. Eisenhardt Overview: Covers key elements of successful startups including optimal teams, funding timing/technique, and market choice.

Memorable Points: Best team is 3-5 people and truly diverse (no imposters). Big opportunites are never found in turnkey format, but are the result of recognizing possibilities and shaping them into mature opportunities.

X PRIZE Foundation Peter Diamandis Overview: How to push into new  frontiers via prize money; competition is fierce, fantastic breakthroughs happen, and only the winner gets paid.

Memorable Points: This guy is an absolute animal.  He launched the first $10 Million X-Prize for a space venture without a dime in the bank then successfully funded the competition after the competition was in play.  He gets the X-Prize for just raw passion.

Google Marissa Mayer Overview: Top 9 list of Google’s innovation secrets.

Memorable Points: Several non-intuitive and valuable points.  My favorite was the concept that generously sharing my best ideas frees my mind to generate new ideas; expending energy to constantly track and protect pet ideas limits valuable new thinking.

InCube Labs Mir Imran
Overview: Parallel entrepreneur that likes to launch several ventures simultaneously, successfully solving extraordinarily challenging medical problems that have been accepted as insurmountable. 

Memorable Points: Extraordinarily technical entrepreneur who stands out brilliantly from the rest with his extreme techical depth in multiple areas, coupled with a business acuity that guides which ventures to fail early, and which to push hard for a solution. 

Ooma Andrew Frame Overview: CEO voted by Businessweek as one of the top entrepreneurs under the age of 30; he reveals his secrets to successful startups.

Memorable Points: Guiding philosphy is to use simple but effective methods at the executive level so that it is easy to evaluate, at any time, the health of the venture. Gave simple recipe for intimately linking the venture’s vision to practical tasks. I tried it, and it works!!

Some common threads of advice from these speakers:

1. Win big or fail big. There is no crime in failure itself, only in failure from lack of boldness.

2. Harness brainpower and energy from others. Be a good listener and others will help to mature your idea into big opportunities.

3. Only you really understand your vision.  Don’t let the nay sayers discourage you.  Keep your eye on your passion and develop your plan to make it real.

4. Market first, technology second. Startups are tough; do them in a great market.

5. It’s not all about the idea.  You need a great team and a great market for the really big wins.

6. Total focus.  Develop your vision, create your strategy, then execute with intense laser focus.

7. In startups, speed is everything.  Beat the big fish with agility.  By comparison, they have bottomless resources, but they are slow.  Use your speed to win.

Comments Welcome!